FBI Special Agent Troy Sowers was overcome with emotion at his retirement ceremony over the weekend when he got a special surprise visit from a man he rescued more than two decades ago.
Sowers said he'd asked for a "very simple" farewell party, but he got the surprise of a lifetime when he was introduced to Stewart Rembert, who he rescued from a kidnapping in 1997.
"I was completely surprised,” Sowers said after the meeting on Friday. "I wanted something very simple. I asked for coffee and donuts and they shocked me."
Sowers was just settling into his new position at the FBI's Tacoma Resident Agency in Washington state when he took on a case about a woman who had posed as a doctor and kidnapped an infant.
The day-long search for the baby boy ended with the woman's arrest. She eventually agreed to lead Sowers to the 9-pound, 5-ounce infant she had abandoned hours earlier. The agent found Rembert in a cardboard box behind a convenience store, some 19 hours after his mother gave birth.
Young Rembert was quickly returned to his parents and the woman plead guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Sowers, who went on to become the head of the FBI's Knoxville, Tennessee, office, said he never stopped thinking about the baby he rescued.
"Today when I saw him, I had to pause a couple of seconds to keep my composure," Sowers said. "This case was something I remembered throughout my career."
Rembert traveled from Washington to Knoxville with his wife.
He said he remembers his family telling him about the kidnapping when he was about 5 years old. When he was 14, he asked for more information, but said he didn’t ask too many questions, understanding that his parents were not eager to relive the painful details, according to the FBI.
“I was excited to meet the man who saved my life,” said Rembert after the reunion. "I was just really ecstatic that they would come to me 22 years later like when he's retiring. I just thought it was a great thing to come down and meet him."
"I was happy to tell him that I’m living a good life, and I’m going to continue living a good life. His efforts that day, and all of his efforts since, made a difference," he added.
As for Sowers, he said he got a bit of closure knowing that the young man turned his life into one of service by joining the Marine Corps.
"I'm proud of anybody that serves others above themselves," Sowers said. “The fact that he is now doing that makes that case even more special."